Barnabas, Mission Partners of Castle Street, Missions

Barnabas Fund – March 15th – Update 2

Aid to Syrian Christians 3 days after disaster

Barnabas Fund, 15 February 2023 (excerpts)

Barnabas has delivered food, blankets and other aid to Christian survivors of the devastating Turkey-Syria earthquake.

The distribution of 1,500 food gift boxes containing rice, lentils, chickpeas, bulgar wheat, noodles, beans and salt to families in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo began on 9 February, just three days after the quake.  We also gave out several hundred pairs of new shoes.

The next consignment, containing 1,200 food parcels, 1,000 blankets, 250 health kits and 200 coats, is already being distributed in northern Syria to help Christians who lost everything when the 7.8 magnitude quake struck in the early hours of 6 February.

We are also about to distribute blankets and heaters to Christian survivors in Turkey.

“Thank you for being there,” said Angela, a Christian in Aleppo, in a video message to Barnabas supporters. Her family home was severely damaged by the earthquake.

“The Public Safety Committee has evacuated the whole building because many cracks had hit our building,” she explained.  “We are staying in a room in a hospital.”

“God bless you all,” she added.  “Please continue your prayers for our beloved Syrian brothers and sisters and those who lost their families and loved ones.”

Missions, The Persecuted Church Across the World

The Bathari people in Oman – March 15th 2003

Joshua Project, 14 March 2023

Bathari is a language of southern Oman, but few people speak Bathari.  The remainder have switched to speaking Omani Arabic, Oman’s trade language.

The Bathari people are Sunni Muslims who believe that Allah spoke through his prophet Mohammed and taught mankind how to live a righteous life through the Koran and the Hadith.  They seek to live righteously according to Mohammed’s teachings.  They have never understood that they need a sinless saviour.

One of the main holidays for Sunni Muslims is Eid al Adha, the celebration of Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son to Allah.  They already understand the value of the sacrifice of a son; this can be a connection to the ultimate sacrifice of the ultimate Son.

“As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God.”  Psalm 42:1

Pray for this kind of longing for the Lord among this people group!

The Bathari people need to put their identity in Christ, especially as they are in the process of losing their identity as a distinct people group.  Pray they would have a spiritual hunger that will open their hearts to the King of kings.  Pray for workers who are driven by love and by the boldness of the Holy Spirit.  Pray for a disciple-making movement among them to begin soon.

Jacksons, Mission Partners of Castle Street, Missions

Jacksons – March 15th – Update 2 (excerpts)

Fraser is grappling to extract usable data from Mukhanyo Theological College’s current system to transfer it to a new library catalogue.  Pray for a workable way forward with their librarian, maybe having to persuade him to re-catalogue parts of their library from scratch!)

A man in Maximum with a very long sentence cares not if he’s released.  He met Jesus in prison and nothing matters as much as his being changed from the man he was outside and far more imprisoned than he is now.

A Medium A Bible study regular was transferred to a different prison several months ago and when he returned was not the same as when he left.  Pray for his physical, emotional and mental healing. 

Dawn recently led Bible studies at Drakenstein Maximum and Medium A on forgiveness.  The rightness of the subject was underlined when a man in Medium A said that the recent session reinforced what was said at their church service on Sunday.  The men have much that needs to be forgiven.  Several have experienced (and acted on) Holy Spirit-induced sleepless nights about those they need to apologise to, seeking to forgive others and understand why it is hard for victims to forgive them. 

Pray for conversation guided by the Holy Spirit at the upcoming Elders’ meeting of our Wellington church when possible sources of disruption will be discussed. 

Thank you for your prayers for Ruth’s health.  Pray she’ll continue to regain her strength and avoid new viruses.   

The government waiver for renewing our visas expires at the end of March.  Pray for either a positive answer or a further, but not last moment, extension.

Missions, The Persecuted Church Across the World

Church Destroyed on National Voodoo Day – March 15th 2003

Voice of the Martyrs, 9 March 2023 (excerpts)

Benin is a small country bordering western Nigeria and is considered the birthplace of Voodoo.  Occult practices, including idol worship, sacrificing animals, and wearing special talismans believed to ward off evil, are widespread.  Voodoo is so commonly practiced in Benin that it has a National Voodoo Day on January 10. 

This year in a small Benin town, Voodooists burned down a church when local Christians refused to honour the village idols during the celebration.  The pastor asks for prayer that the village people will be freed from bondage of Voodoo, that the church will be rebuilt, and that the congregation will be strengthened despite persecution.

Every village and many homes in the north have a designated place for animal sacrifice (and sometimes human sacrifice).  Voodoo is an official religion and Witchcraft is deeply ingrained and openly practiced.  Christianity is considered a foreign religion that steals a community’s youth from being properly initiated into the local tribes.  Every village chief serves as both a political leader and a voodoo priest.

The country is 30 percent Christian, including 8 percent evangelical.  40 percent practice ethnic religions, and 30 percent are Muslim.   Persecution is prevalent in the north.  New converts to Christianity are beaten and sometimes killed, while churches are routinely destroyed.  Villages keep evangelists out and prevent construction of new churches.  Bibles are hard to find in rural areas.

Missions, The Persecuted Church Across the World

Muslims Block Christian Building in Indonesia – March 15th 2023

Morning Star News, 13 March 2023 (excerpts)

Muslims in a village in north-eastern Indonesia’s portion of Borneo Island prohibited a church from constructing a worship building.

Local leaders in Tarakan City in North Kalimantan Province, stated in a Feb. 28 letter that the Christian Church’s proposed construction was against state regulations since it would be located amid predominantly Muslim tribes.

Kristianto Triwibowo, coordinator of the Indonesian Christian Student Movement (GMKI), reportedly said the ban defies the Indonesian constitution and the government’s guiding policy of unity and social justice for all of Indonesia’s various peoples.

“The state guarantees the right to worship and embrace the religion of all people,” Kristianto said March 7.  “Instead of rejecting the services of the Church, which should not happen, we must tolerate each other and maintain diversity.”

The GMKI encouraged the North Kalimantan and Tarakan City governments, along with the Ministry of Religion and various state agencies, to fully protect activities of the church, which is registered with the Ministry of Religion.

Blythswood, Mission Partners of Castle Street, Missions

Blythswood – March 7th 2023 – Update

Daniel Centre

Balazs has been completing his 6-monthly report for Christian Aid on handling the winterisation money for the Ukraine.  He leaves for a week in Kenya on Friday 10th, having arranged to meet the Hungarian ambassador to Kenya in Nairobi to discuss the future of Hungarian aid to the Christian school there and its efforts to be accredited.

Julien and Cipri are doing well in their apartment, Damian continues with his rental delivery scooter.   Two of the lads have been sent out of the Daniel Centre because of drug abuse and a third is on a warning.  7 places are currently filled, with one vacancy, and 6 of the 7 lads in residence have work.  The 7th, recently sacked by his supermarket, is actively pursuing other work. 

Work at the depot continues and only the tarring of the yard remains to complete.

The Daniel Centre team – Danny, Louisa and Agnes – are all doing well.

Talita Kum

Adi had a very successful day trip to Hungary with a group of children and the elderly, and another very successful skiing trip for 18 children in early March.

As I spoke to Balazs, Adi was on his way to meet the owners of the land adjacent to Talita Kum to see if it could be purchased by Blythswood for use as a sports area for the Talita Kum children.

Barnabas, Mission Partners of Castle Street, Missions

Barnabas Fund – March 1st – Update 1

Updates on the persecuted Church

Barnabas Fund, 22 February 2023 (excerpts)

  • Fifteen Christian families have been expelled from their home village in rural north-western Laos. The families were driven out after their conversion to Christianity and have been left with no place to stay.  The authorities have sought to negotiate with the village in order to allow the families to return to their homes, but so far with no success.  Pray for a resolution that will allow local and regional authorities to enforce a national law protecting the rights of Christians.

 The military authorities in Chin State, Myanmar, announced on 13 February that Christians in seven of the state’s nine townships must register their names seven days before attending church. It is not known if believers would face punishment for attending church without giving their names in advance.  Pray that this new requirement will not become a tool of further persecution.

  • Three worshippers were abducted by an armed gang after attending church in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on Sunday 12 February just days after Antoine Noah, a church minister from Cameroon, was abducted. Pray for our brothers and sisters, asking that they will be kept safe from further harm and swiftly released.

Six Egyptian Christians were released on 17 February after being abducted and illegally detained in neighbouring Libya earlier in the month.  The six men were held at an unofficial detention centre, not controlled by the Libyan authorities.  Give thanks that the six have been able to return home in safety.

Missions, The Persecuted Church Across the World

Syrian Christians Face Multiple Challenges – March 1st 2003

Voice of the Martyrs, 23 February 2023 (excerpts)

Aaron and Khalil Hassan are two brothers who fled to Lebanon after the self-proclaimed Islamic State (ISIS) chased them from their apricot farm.  While in Lebanon, they heard the gospel and placed their faith in Christ.  When they returned to Syria, they found their farms pillaged; ISIS had chopped down the apricot trees and used them for firewood. 

“Basic life necessities are scarce and horrendously expensive if they can be found,” said a front-line worker.   Christian families remain alert to Muslim extremists: “The threat from Islamic militants remains.”

The churches and believers that have been able to remain in Syria have served as a beacon of hope and a source of peace for both Christians and Muslims throughout the war.  Many Muslims have come to Christ as Christians have reached out with acts of compassion and practical assistance.  And reports that neighbouring countries may send Syrian refugees back to Syria gives believers hope that those who came to faith in nearby countries will return and strengthen local churches.

Syria was once known for religious tolerance, relative to most nations in the Middle East.  However, in recent years Syrian Christians have faced the same restrictions and opposition that are common in the region’s more restricted Islamist nations.

Jacksons, Mission Partners of Castle Street, Missions

Jacksons – March 1st – Update 1 (excerpts)

Fraser is continuing to make progress with the Mukhanyo college library catalogue.  Pray that his work will help in their training of Christian leaders.  

The NetACT journal might see its day-to-day running moved to a different organisation – less work for NetACT but also less control of the direction of the journal. 

In Drakenstein Medium B, 5 inmates attacked 4 warders with homemade knives.  Other warders retaliating with dogs and batons left a man dead.  Pray for all concerned to experience the change that only God can bring.

Dawn hears that the new head of Drakenstein Correctional Services is hostile towards the Restorative Justice process, pursuing her grudges spitefully and divisively.  May she be surprised by God’s power and overwhelmed by His love. 

Ruth in Glasgow has been confined to bed again and has had to miss a lot of days at work and college.  

Give thanks for an uplifting guitar group in Maximum.  I only take in Christian songs to play and it feels as if I’m singing light into the darkness.  Generous supporters have provided funds for more instruments.

Pray that Hope Prison Ministry leaders will have wisdom and a Christlike attitude.

We see clear signs of God at work in our church, but also some de-stabilising influences.

Missions, The Persecuted Church Across the World

Police Rescue 40 Christian Children in Uganda – March 1st 2003

Morning Star News 2 February 2023 (excerpts)

Police in Uganda have arrested two people in connection with the kidnapping of 40 Christian children lured by a Muslim posing as the leader of a Christian charity offering free education.

In Arua, in northwest Uganda’s West Nile Sub-Region, 27-year-old Siraji Sabiri, a Muslim, had lured the children to a hotel with promises of school scholarships and was possibly planning to sell them to a rebel militant group in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

A pastor in Arua first learned of the alleged scam from church members who told him a Christian organization was registering children for scholarships for a school in Luwero, in central Uganda.  Sabiri resides near Luwero.

 “So parents made use of the opportunity to register for the offer of such scholarships,” said the pastor.  “I got concerned and rang the police to check on the children, because I was not involved in the whole process.”

Officers rushed to the hotel, found the children ages 5 to 16 and learned they had been booked on a bus for the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  Interrogations revealed that the leader, Sabiri, was not a Christian but a Muslim.

“The man had disguised himself as a Christian and was able to register over 40 children in the name of offering them bursaries, yet with the intention of selling them to the Allied Democratic Forces in Congo.”

Had the abduction succeeded, the pastor said, the effect on the church and local community would have been devastating.